Common types of kidney stones
Kidney stones, also called ‘renal calculi’ or ‘nephrolithiasis’ or ‘urolithiasis’ are hard crystalline deposits of salts and minerals that are present in the urine. Everyone’s urine contains salts and minerals that are supposed to be sent out in the urine but when the salts are high in concentration, they tend to combine to form crystalline deposits that can grow over time.
Being overweight or obese, diet, medical condition, supplements, and consumption of very little fluids every day can result in the formation of kidney stones. They move from the kidneys to the bladder and sometimes into the urethra while they are being sent out of the body through urine. As the kidney stones move, the sudden and severe pain that is associated with kidney stones moves from the middle of the back to the lower back.
Smaller kidney stones can be easily moved out of the body by just increasing the amount of water and other fluids consumed while the larger ones may require surgery to break or to extract from the body. It is always advisable to drink a good amount of water, watch your diet if you really don’t want the kidney stones to form or recur.
Types of kidney stones
The common types of kidney stones include:
- Calcium oxalate stones
- Struvite stones
- Uric acid stones
- Cystine stones
Calcium oxalate stones
Calcium oxalate stones are the most common type of kidney stones that are formed. When there is excess oxalate present in the food or when the body is deprived of enough water, the concentration of oxalate increases in the urine. This combines with calcium that is present in the urine to form calcium oxalate stones.
Diet, high doses of vitamin D supplements or very low vitamin D levels, intestinal bypass surgery, and some metabolic disorders increase the concentration of calcium (and oxalate) in the urine. Foods such as spinach, green leafy vegetables, almonds, beets, chocolate, nuts, soya products are rich sources of oxalate. If you are suffering from kidney stones, these are the foods that you should definitely not consume.
Conditions that result in the formation of calcium oxalate stones:
- Hyperparathyroidism or too much parathyroid hormone
- IBD – inflammatory bowel disease
- Dent disease
- Gastric bypass surgery
- Obesity or being overweight
Struvite is a mineral that is produced by bacteria present in the urinary tract. That means Urinary Tract Infection is the major cause of the formation of struvite stones. These stones grow very fast with nearly no symptoms until they grow very large. They can block the kidney, ureters or bladder, or urethra. They can even damage the kidneys. Struvite stones are most often seen in women as the odds of UTI are very high in women compared to men.
Unlike calcium oxalate stones, changes in diet or consuming more fluids are not going to help stop the formation of struvite stones. (Consuming more fluids when your urinary tract is infected can help flush the bacteria a little bit but the infection has to be treated). Including lemonade, orange juice, cranberry juice, amla (Indian gooseberry) can help in treating urinary tract infections naturally and reduce the odds of struvite stone formation.
Uric acid stones
Uric acid stones are the second most common type of kidney stone. Typically uric acid stones form in people suffering from gout (various conditions caused due to build-up of uric acid), diabetes, obesity, or other type of metabolic conditions.
Uric acid stones form in those who don’t consume enough liquids or whose primary diet comprises an animal protein. The condition is hereditary or can be seen in people who have undergone chemotherapy.
Very rare types of kidney stones are usually seen in people with a genetic disorder called ‘cystinuria’. Their kidneys secrete too much cystine, an amino acid that is released into the urine. This results in the formation of cystine stones.
Common symptoms of kidney stones
Sudden and severe pain in the back that can change its location is most likely an indication of the presence of kidney stones. Typically the pain is only on one side of the back or abdomen depending on the location of the stone. Other symptoms that may indicate the presence of kidney stones are:
- Pain during urination or burning sensation.
- Vomiting or nausea
- Foul-smelling urine
- Frequent urination
Note that every back pain is not an indicator of kidney stones. Normal back pain varies a lot from that of kidney stones. Should you have any of the above-mentioned symptoms and if you are present in Chennai, we advise you to see a good nephrologist near you or you can visit our Kidney Stones Clinic in Chennai that hosts highly experienced and sought after nephrologists.